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Zen and stream entry

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Zen and stream entry FM Cetin 8/8/15 8:00 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Chris Marti 8/8/15 8:27 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Derek 8/8/15 9:30 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/10/15 3:18 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Rednaxela 8/10/15 1:29 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry neko 8/13/15 1:29 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/14/15 7:54 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry neko 8/15/15 2:16 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/15/15 8:05 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Rednaxela 8/28/15 1:11 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/29/15 10:49 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Caro 9/2/15 12:23 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/2/15 10:19 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Rednaxela 9/1/15 4:47 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/2/15 8:27 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/2/15 12:45 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry Rednaxela 9/4/15 10:20 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/4/15 10:58 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Rednaxela 9/9/15 8:21 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Rednaxela 9/11/15 12:46 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/11/15 9:56 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Rednaxela 9/11/15 2:09 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry Small Steps 8/10/15 9:55 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Jeff Wright 8/17/15 9:20 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry FM Cetin 8/12/15 9:51 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry Jeff Wright 8/13/15 10:15 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry svmonk 8/13/15 1:04 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry Jeff Wright 8/13/15 1:27 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry FM Cetin 8/14/15 6:37 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry svmonk 8/14/15 8:54 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Jeff Wright 8/14/15 9:14 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Derek 8/13/15 1:33 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry Jeff Wright 8/13/15 3:20 PM
RE: Zen and stream entry An Eternal Now 8/16/15 2:24 AM
RE: Zen and stream entry Derek 8/16/15 12:19 PM
Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/8/15 8:00 AM
Has anyone gotten stream entry doing a Zen type practice (just sitting)? Or know of accounts of stream entry by Zen practitioners?

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/8/15 8:27 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
I suggest a reading of the Three Pillars of Zen, by Philliip Kapleau:


http://www.amazon.com/The-Three-Pillars-Zen-Enlightenment/dp/0385260938

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/8/15 9:30 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
There is a very brief account of Kyudo Nakagawa's awakening in Lawrence Shainberg's Ambivalent Zen. The description of Kyudo's Zen awakening may be too brief for your purposes, but it's a highly entertaining book all the same. Well worth a read.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/10/15 3:18 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Yes, it came on the heels of about 18 months of anapanasati and even a sensate practice from actualists, both generously and freely coached by participants/co-practitiones here on this forum. For whatever reason I woke up early one morning and, just based on meditative habit at that point, I was watching the light of the full moon on water and I was so frustrated that "nothing had worked so far" that I was too tired/too worn out to be frustrated. So I had a placid sort of "I give up" in the days before (a complete "I give up", like being exhausted) and I was just sitting (now I have a natural appreciation for shikantaza, the practice in which I started about 17 20 years ago with a formal group, and about 15 years before this happened).

So one winter morning well-rested and alert, nothing else, I woke up in the very early morning when a full moon was high in the sky and I naturally just sat in a chair (the habit had formed such that I did not wake up and read the news nor wake up and read a book nor wake  up and perseverate/ruminate). At one point, out of the blue, out of bland, basically comfortable sitting (in a lawn chair in the house by a window) the mind just clicked on its own and recognized that it was somehow still naming the moon "moon", wordlessly, and in that naming there was assuming some knowledge about the moon just through sort of mentally proto-naming it -- that this was conceit. None of this happened verbally, but it was easy to put in words. (I did not think about the zen story "pointing at the moon is not the moon", but this is a fair summary of the insight).

This was not stream entry. I wasn't even thinking about SE. I just got up switched chairs and sat again (nothing special, just habit happening on a morning that happened to have mental alertness and body comfort); in that second "sit" (just sitting, naturally alert, naturally comfortable that morning --- I had been doing months of yoga so I had much less body tension)) just before actual dawn the mind inexplicably went through stream-entry. It was out of the blue. And I'm sure it was because the preceding weeks of complete "I give up, nothing works" yet I was doing yoga, relaxing, sustaining useful habits. Just sitting (just sitting was the natural outcome of sustaining useful habits and also the very unavoidable 'I give up').

There were, for example, several mornings and evenings and Sunday afternoons of the exact same thing: just sitting, naturally alert, naturally comfortable --- arising becuase of prior skillful habit formation, prior development of mental calm, prior development of being able to see mental state cycle, prior development of diet and exercise --- some balance was building in the mind at the same the melacholy of "nothing works" was happening. Finally, there were sits where even melancholy did not arise -- that feeling too wasn't useful, wasn't gratifying; mind stopped producing it, I guess. So there was just sitting, several moments of just sitting (which also gave rise to some surprising moments, but which were not SE). 

In the months that followed I also learned why stream-enterers are still said, in Pali suttas, "to smell like dung". =] Best wishes.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/10/15 9:55 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Brad Warner writes a chapter about his experience in his first book, Hardcore Zen.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/10/15 1:29 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
thanks for taking the time to write this up so nicely Katy,

On the last point, are we talking about the stink of enlightenment?   I always thought we were talking metaphorically.

Alex

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/12/15 9:51 PM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Thanks for the replies, especially Katy. I will look into these.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/13/15 10:15 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Interesting question. I haven't heard a lot of Zen folks actually talking about nirvana and how they attained it (assuming they did).

I attend a Zen sitting and dharma talk on Saturday mornings. I find it - shall we say - spare. It's my impression that Zen offers a lot less handholding and signposts of progress on the way to ultimate truth than do the Theravada traditions that I'm more familiar with. Why this is, I don't know; a lot of it seems cultural. But I know that the temple is beautiful and serene, and I can go and sit for 2 hours in a nice setting without being hassled, so that's a good thing.

I also admit that I don't usually have a clue about half of what is being talked about in the dharma talk. The terms are different than what I know from my meager readings in Theravada ("alaya consciousness" - what is that??), and the master there tends to speak in riddles and contradictory statements rather than in a linear fashion.

Thanks for the post...looking forward to other replies.

Jeff

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/13/15 1:04 PM as a reply to Jeff Wright.
Hi Jeff,

Zen starts at the endpoint, emptiness, and moves from there outward to form. Theravada starts where you are, at form, and moves toward emptiness (nirvana). The canonical Zen text is the Heart Sutra: "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness is no other than form" (short commentary on the Heart Sutra at my blog here).

Then too, Zen started in reaction to the T'ain T'ai teachings in China, which were very scholastic and oriented toward study of Abhidharma and other canonical and non-canonical texts, as "a teaching beyond words". That's why you don't see much explanation or discussion.

If you talk with Zen teachers about enlightenment, though, they fall into two camps, roughly along the Soto/Rinzai split in Japanese Zen. The Soto school believes enlightenment happens gradually "getting soaked by walking through mist" and not through some single catalytic (path/fruit) event. The Rinzai school, in constrast, believes that enlightenment happens suddenly. But Rinzai doesn't distinguish the 4 stages of enlightenment like Theravada, though they do admit that additional development is needed after the first experience (see the Ten Oxhearding Pictures). They tend to typically not be all that interested in maps, though some do use the vipassana meditative techniques. Shinzen Young, a teacher who I've practiced with, has a Rinzai background but has developed a vipassana noting technique that I've found really helpful, very precise and practical.

Hope that helps.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/13/15 1:27 PM as a reply to svmonk.
Hey svmonk, thanks for the reply.

I hope my post didn't come across as 'against' Zen, not at all. Being pretty new to all this stuff though, and also being an enigneer, the linear way of doing things where everything is spelled out for me in a blueprint is attractive.

One thing that I have noticed in the dharma talks I've attended at this particular zen center is a distinct focus on numbers (triple this, fivefold that, etc.). I suppose it's no different than in the Theraveda schools (the numbered entities are from the suttas - e.g. 4 Noble Truths, 5 Aggregates, etc. -  and as I understand it, they act as a mnemonic to help remembering). But in this zen center I do notice that there is an attempt to tie in the numbers of something to the numbers of soemthing else that we know more immediately. Examples that come to mind: 5 Time Zones in the United States, something about a Triple Eagle Eye, etc. It's lost on me but the other students seem to get it. OTOH maybe they're just nodding their head and saying yes like I've experienced in Japanese martial arts schools.  :-)

I was given the Heart Sutra to read, and read it I did. I was suprised at how short it was, given that it supposedly captures the essence of all Zen within it. :-)

Jeff

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/13/15 1:29 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:

in that second "sit" (just sitting, naturally alert, naturally comfortable that morning --- I had been doing months of yoga so I had much less body tension)) just before actual dawn the mind inexplicably went through stream-entry. It was out of the blue.

Hello Katy,

this is very interesting. Can you elaborate on what happened to you exactly? Was it a visuddhimagga-style, MCTB-style, "blip" cessation? Something that had to do with the more traditional model of the lower fetters?

neko

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/13/15 1:33 PM as a reply to Jeff Wright.
Jeff Wright:
 ("alaya consciousness" - what is that??),


ālaya consciousness is storehouse consciousness. ālaya = store or storehouse, as in himālaya, "store of snow." This is a doctrine of the Mind-Only school of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Although Zen bills itself as "a special tranmission outside of the scriptures," D. T. Suzuki has documented how it was in fact influenced by Mind-Only scriptures, and in particular the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/13/15 3:20 PM as a reply to Derek.
So, a quick online reading of material realted to this tells me that there are 8 layers of consciousness, as follows:

1 - 5 (physical sensations of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell)
6 (mind)
7 (ego, or sense of self/individuality, from which all delusion and suffering arises)
8 (alaya, or pervading consciousness)

So when I hear the Master say that being in 7th consciousness is hell and 8th is nirvana, now I have a little clearer meaning.

Thanks

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/14/15 6:37 AM as a reply to svmonk.
Zen starts at the endpoint, emptiness, and moves from there outward to form. Theravada starts where you are, at form, and moves toward emptiness (nirvana)

I had been meaning to explain Zen and Theravada in relation to each other and this is what I reached myself too. Thanks for that.

One reason I posed the initial question was that it seems to me like Zen practice is susceptible to getting stuck in the stage of Equanimity. Equanimity is emphasized a lot in Zen, so a student can be in the Equanimity stage and think that he is a good Zen practitioner, and just be that for a long time.

I practice Zen and it's just something that occured to me. 

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/14/15 8:54 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Hi Nick,
One reason I posed the initial question was that it seems to me like Zen practice is susceptible to getting stuck in the stage of Equanimity. Equanimity is emphasized a lot in Zen, so a student can be in the Equanimity stage and think that he is a good Zen practitioner, and just be that for a long time.

That is a particular concern for the "gradual enlightenment" approach of Soto. For Rinzai, however, the emphasis is on a specific experiental event which is essentially equivalent to the path/fruit moments of the Theravada enlightenment experience. That said, I know some long term Soto practitioners who claim not to have experienced an enlightenment moment, but who exhibit plenty of the outward behavioral signs of enlightenment.

Note: YMMV on the latter, since there is one school of thought among the DhO community that outward behavioral signs are not really the point and that the inward shift in perspective that comes from the path/fruit moment is. I tend to come down on the side of the behavioral signs being important, but that's just my view.

                jak

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/14/15 9:14 AM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
Note: YMMV on the latter, since there is one school of thought among the DhO community that outward behavioral signs are not really the point and that the inward shift in perspective that comes from the path/fruit moment is. I tend to come down on the side of the behavioral signs being important, but that's just my view.

                jak

I can't disagree with this view so long as the world in which 'we' live contains multiple instances of 'I' - all of which interact. In other words, getting along with others is at least as important, if not more important, than 'getting it.'

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/14/15 7:54 PM as a reply to neko.
Alex L

On the last point, are we talking about the stink of enlightenment?   I always thought we were talking metaphorically.


To me, it's actual [edit: okay, not odor, but the offense of fetters in one's life and imposing on others, and being imposed upon by other well-intened seekers; "enlightenment" I think was a terrible way to translate this practice of bhavana and releases/letting go of fetters]. If we called "Stream-entry" by another name it would be the start of seeing things as they are, i.e., being an animal driven to pleasurable/neutral sensations and averse to non-pleasant and non-neutral sensations (e.g., pain, indignity), averse to non-existence (death, annihilation).

So-called stream entry is like any other concentration study where an insight into the study comes out of the blue, but through a focused attention. So one can be sewing or doing some math, for example, and be stuck on a problem, sitting there while after while after while focused on the situation at hand. Then, out of the blue, some insight sparks about the issue.

So calming the mind to a peaceful focused state does the same thing: one is develops an alert and tranquil mental state (having let go of or given up on wanting all sorts of 'special' things happening or giving up on the reliability of any 'special' mental events). So: alert and tranquil, alert and tranquil-- just observing mind with alert and unprovoked (tranquil) attention; out of the blue, some insight into what one is watching simply occurs. The mind is so tranquil there is no "I want to find XYZ in my practice." There's just tranquil alert attention.

Like any conundrum, we might go back and forth between a strongly effortful investigation mode and an tranquil, open alert mode of mental attention.

But to come out of it is to see, in my case, so many layers of animal motivation with so much cleverness -- and to see it in others:  human animals finding ways to constantly evoke pleasant and neutral sensations --- the hunt for status, vibrant health, intellect, superiority, lovability --- these are so reasonable for an animal to hunt for. But, the flip side, is using other beings as the fuel for one's pleasures or avoidance of difficulty.  And then there's conceit very naturally arising, sort of a smug calm or insistant smile or assertion of superiority --- this is very easy to spot, too, in the mirror and in others. It is very understandable why natural non-conciet is so admired. A non-conceited person exists with simpler conditions under the radar of so many egos launching up into view like so many grasshoppers from a lawn. It becomes very clear that there is enormous stress in the conditions of being sentient.

Or to return to the cloth analogy (wherein dung is actually a detergeant leaving an odor) : one can see for themselves now they have stains on their shirt and the first washing of the shirt just shows which stains are tenacious and are going to require more inspection and careful study --- for example, how deeply the human animal still wants so many pleasures and eases and might do anything to get them; the mind, like the stained shirt, will take more review (more washes) of seeing conditions (physics, chemistry, biology, ecology & eventually economics and politics of being alive) and causality, own actions and own desires grabbing, and training to see what thinking and what consequent actions are reliable and what is reliable actually in these conditions.

Neko:
Can you elaborate on what happened to you exactly? Was it a visuddhimagga-style, MCTB-style, "blip" cessation? Something that had to do with the more traditional model of the lower fetters?


So on the full moon of February 2012 there were two sits -- only because I woke up early and had the habit of just sitting as a result of the prior year-plus of sitting training (a progressive training; I was not out-of-the-gates talented; and was very restless and fed up, discursive, for a good bit of that time).

First sit I just looked at the full moon's light on the river surface. At some point, I realized that I had sort of a dismissive assumption, similar to how in naming birds by their given Latin names, there can be sort of an arrogance of "knowing" that bird. So I thought, "Oh, that's arrogant. I think I know what moon is." I got up and moved to another room to watch the moon as it set.

I sat in a different chair that's easy to fall over in if I fell asleep-- good mediation chair: easy on the legs, but excellent for staying awake. So I just watched the steep bank of the river, low mountains and the moon setting towards them, black sky but for moon. The body was very comfy and "boundaryless" mind content (body and mind just went to third jhana out of habit-- ease, contented, heavy, still -- edit: so there was just sitting, but in physical ease do to the want-nothing mind and relaxed body). At some point, there was 1) plain awareness without gradient of form/not form distinction, 2) the next moment was something like recognizing that the first moment (1) has form and the moment before (1) was nothing, non-consciousness; 3) about the third mental moment was awareness of distinction in form (colors), 4) there was awareness of naming/knowing river-pre-dawn-pink/bluing sky (no words but the mental snap of recognition), 5) there was the awareness of sound like a radio playing static, 6) the landscape suddenly got very bright and 'affectionate' or as if there was a source of affectionate/attractive consciouness that touched and like the prior preceptions, 6) the radio sounds soundly were recognized as my own thoughts --- an barrage of "What is this? What is this? what happened? What is this?" Sort of jumble. My first coherent thought was, "I think I understand what is meant by skandas now" and I got up and looked up skandas fascinated.

I don't know what you'd call that. To me, the words "cessation" and "reboot" rang true.
I nearly immediately thought the fetter model made sense. I felt like the experience of directly seeing/feeling consciousnesses actually "grab" what is pleasing was very useful --  a very elementary expience of how "I" am inclined to "grab" at things which cause pleasant-sensation or prevent unpleasant sensation. I could see for myself that the fetters listed in that model, were easy to understand and I was easily causing myself volatility by not learning how to undermine their yearings.

I next took a huge interest in sutta studies and had the fortune to be able to attend Bhikkhu Bodhi's classes.
I took as many retreats as  I could afford in 2012 and 2013. There was dealing with conceit, dissatisfaction, effort, ease, constant fatique of "What good is this? Is this any use?"

In 2013 and 2014 I started to see the obvious sanity of the brahmaviharas (mental states of kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, equanimity) and compassion being most important this year. even just looking out at trees: even the trees shade each other out for sun. Compassion for this condition, life both fiercely competing and carefully collaborating, is sane.

So. Is this useful? To me the practice is useful. Open the newspaper, there is a lot of madness done by humans in rapid-trading stocks and drying up human health for tiny mass margins, overharvesting ecosystems, charging some kind of payment for buddhadharma -- these are, to me, short-sighted and short-term gratifications, with less of a long-term mind understanding cause-and-effect well being.

But it's changing. Tragedy and loss can bring people down to earth and focus us on what's reliable and what's ultimately misery making. So many people realize they cannot really shelter their kids with sheer weatlh and status from a terrible future of massive social-ecological problems; steady and reliable places are not to be found in a suffusively and highly violatile system.  Just seeing things as they are. We have a choice to put thinking into action and the thinking counts. The knowledge of how own mind works counts. 

Right now all this tapping on a keyboard while refugees from Syria try to secure themselves from Kos to Greece to better lives. Too many hard conditions to name. The calming of breathing medidation to obtain calmness and stable mind, ability to think about cause-and-effect, is useful.

The practice does not prevent physical pain nor grief at conditions, nor does it prevent elation at wonderful times/people/place =]. I am just slightly more trainable, slightly more aware of how I cause myself difficulties, more of a reliable way of seeing conditions and how I contribute to them and so.

Any use?
 

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/15/15 2:16 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Katy, thanks for the in-depth description. It is fascinating how well we are able to rememeber those moments in meditation and spiritual practice, even years after the fact. The clarity with which a handful of moments can burn in our memories is fascinating.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/15/15 8:05 AM as a reply to neko.
Hi Neko,

Well, I would add now, here a few more years since then, that I feel "dry" insight practice is essential: just habituating oneself to weighing cause-and-effect in own actions and always recognizing there is unknown.*

And dry-insight study often depends on a calm mind (getting out of the vigilant fright-fight-freeze brainstem thinking of alarm/defense); so a peaceful breahing meditation practice is valuable.*


Then sometimes out of the blue in those two diliberate trainings, a "wet" insight occurs, just something totally direct and unexpected and workable and understood.*


_______
*Shikantaze of zen is like this, without words and deliberate investigation-foci; but just being there in the sitting with developing calm/perseverance for sits, developing awareness of mental patterns, and sometimes out-of-the-blue mental release-insights. Zen can be so mapless as to be quite hard, but it developed in the models of ways a person can practice for practical reasons, chiefly it may thwart heirarchies and "gain" thinking; conversely it can leave people feeling ungrounded and confused if their environment also seems volatile-- where a clear path model would help keep a person oriented through volatility.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/16/15 2:24 AM as a reply to FM Cetin.
The short answer is no, I am not aware of any Zen masters describing "cessation blips". I don't think the Burmese path applies to Zen.

But I'm aware of many Zen masters who describe awakening similar to MCTB 4th-path*

*See Stage 9 of Ox-Herding Picture:

http://terebess.hu/english/oxherding.html

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/16/15 12:19 PM as a reply to FM Cetin.
Paweł K:

Not really sure if Zen or Theravada mention anything such as mind ground but I am pretty sure they have their own fancy names for this that mean exactly the same thing.
There is that famous verse about "the unborn" that appears in the Udāna and the Itivuttaka:

"There is, O bhikkhus, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned. If, O bhikkhus, there were not that unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, you could not know an escape here from the born, become, made, and conditioned."[1]

And that equally famous verse about the luminosity of the undefiled mind:

"Luminous, O bhikkhus, is the mind, but it is defiled by adventitious defilements."[2]

Notes

[1] Atthi, bhikkhave, ajātaṁ abhūtaṁ akataṁ asaṅkhataṁ. No ce taṁ bhikkhave abhavissā ajātaṁ abhūtaṁ akataṁ asaṅkhataṁ, na-y-idha jātassa bhūtassa katassa saṅkhatassa nissaraṇaṁ paññāyetha (Udāna 8.3).

[2] Pabhassaramidaṃ , bhikkhave, cittaṃ. Tañca kho āgantukehi upakkilesehi upakkiliṭṭhaṃ (Aṅguttara Nikāya 1.6).

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/17/15 9:20 AM as a reply to Small Steps.
Small Steps:
Brad Warner writes a chapter about his experience in his first book, Hardcore Zen.

Just finished this book - thanks for the tip

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/28/15 1:11 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Katy, i am just floored by the completeness of this response.  thank you.  You've put a lot of thought and attention into this.  i hope to come back to this discussion or another one when i can say something somewhat meaningful and perhaps half as nicely written.

Your dharma buddy, Alex

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
8/29/15 10:49 AM as a reply to Rednaxela.
Hi Alex. I wrote a lot of words, so I'm glad they could work okay. Thank you for your feedback. 

Re-reading, I feel I left out two things:

I. I also practiced with the instructions of Tarin Greco and this attention-at-the-senses practice was really useful to "getting out of my head" and intellectualizing. So I dedicated myself to that practice for weeks, no matter what I did, staying sensate and just mentating when I needed to (like, reading and thinking for work). That sincere effort also caused me, at about 4-6 weeks in, to snap into jhana one evening listening to a friend teach: an equanimous single-pointed attention. I understood right away why people refer to it as single-pointed and equanimous and beneficial. I dropped sensate and worked on jhana for months and months -- rather driven to find that peace of mind again (so this seeking also caused some suffering). Still, despite having a basic ability with jhana and having consequential insights, I felt defeated about six months later as if "nothing works. I don't know what people are really talking about with SE". Still I was doing a lot of yoga each week, sitting, just sitting (like, on the couch, just sitting alert and mind the  body). Mentation and conceptualization was definitely dropping away but I wasn't congnizing over that.. so it was deeply calming), mind naturally able to go to sukkha, attention much more sensate and calm through these practice habits. Not even reflecting on this. just coming home from work, sitting on the couch, sitting after a nap, sitting and looking a sky, water, trees.  (A benefit of the sense of defeat/no ability to gain is also very useful for deflating mental expectation and planning and manipulating in just-sitting meditation --- I am grateful it was balanced with body ease provided by yoga). So that was part of pre-SE, too.


II. And dana. Maybe a year  eight/nine months before SE, dana became much more important to me: I was planning to take a big international trip to aim for whatever this stream-entry thing was or AF -- whatever these releases are that people were describing on this forum. And right before the trip I just realized the money for the flight and travel could do a lot more benefit for several beings-- like, guarantee their sustainable food sources, for example ---  and donating the money needed to travel was more reliable than me putting a lot of money and carbon in international travel for soemthing I could not be sure would happen: stream-entry. So I took that money and gave it to an effective, transparent non-profit organization which has no overhead. I had never done that before, been able to just let go of some sum that was large for me, knowing I had already planned to spend it and then just seen, "Oh, there's actually a effective way to use this sum right away for many-well-beings, not my potential one." Dana remains a reliable practice for well being. 

editx2

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/2/15 12:23 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:

II. And dana....

Thanks for adding the piece on dana! I was just having a discussion with a friend at the weekend on whether one shouldn´t just first focus on personal liberation before being able to make a meaningful contribution in the world (his view on things). Somehow I remembered your story and basically found that things like dana in the sense of money but also in the sense of time and effort like practically helping others, being present with somebody etc can be such a powerful practice of surrender which in turn may help oneself along the path.

I think I won the argument - so much for practicing surrendering ;)

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/1/15 4:47 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Thanks again Katy.  I like what i heard from Tarin and appreciate your comments on Dana.  I feel like i'm giving a lot raising two young girls but also know that i would benefit from more Dana.  

anyway, I talked to Kenneth Folk recently and mentioned my interest in hitting stream entry.  He's written on-line piece advocating this as a goal so i was a bit surprised when he suggested this was an example of spiritual materialism.  Still, he said this was a worthy project.

We talked some more and noted sensations and their feeling tones.  He surmised that while i was labelling many sensations as neutral, i was actually layering equanimity on top of the experience (and hopefully not  the near-enenmy indifference).  I'm sure he was right, the feelings in my face have actually become overpowering at times and i wish they would go away.  i always thought i was doing a good thing by trying to be equalnimous but my homework now is to simply note things like "itching" or "burning" and accurately label the feeling tone.

Anyway, this is where i am after five years of spirited meditation.  A bit humbling  

Alex

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/2/15 10:19 AM as a reply to Caro.
Somehow I remembered your story and basically found that things like dana in the sense of money but also in the sense of time and effort like practically helping others, being present with somebody etc can be such a powerful practice of surrender which in turn may help oneself along the path.


Totally. Dana is just generosity. It doesn't matter what or how, it's giving something/qualities that would be welcome to be received.

There's no calculation of return as in mutual aid and perhaps even altruism. 

Dana for teachers is just that:

a) A person uptaking the role of a teacher for an interaction/moment gives Dharma with no strings attached, no need to require any payment/service/status or title. The reliable Dharma person is reliable unto themselves (not a separate island) and can provide for their conditions, seeing them as they are.

b) A person uptaking the role of a learner for an interaction/moment receives Dharma with no need to placate anyone with titles/outset respect/payments. Whereas all of these are a natural pleasure to give to reliable teachers or to conditions in honor of the teacher.

Where the Dharma is reliable, both parties are co-creating and immersing in the condition of generosity, dana, which as you can imagine, has no attachment and is holistically free.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/2/15 8:27 PM as a reply to Rednaxela.
I like what i heard from Tarin and appreciate your comments on Dana.  I feel like i'm giving a lot raising two young girls (...)  


Oh, totally agree. From my parents and what I see in loads of parents is loads of generosity and empathy. I always hope parents and caregivers find time to be generous to themselves --- just as they are caring for the lives around them, to give that to themselves.

And so I also think that where a person has the desire for sotapanna mental release (or any of the stages/bumis/paths) that is a generosity of time and space to give to oneself, to carve out for oneself.

Sometimes the practice towards the goal of sotapanna mental release (or any of the stages/bumis/paths/letting-gos) seems very selfish. But just like any self-care (like flossing teeth) we can welcome the carving out of time for ours health and joy and freedom and even retreats when the time is right.

I remember reading interviews from both Thich Nhat Hanh and Mahagosananda on this: Both monastics were displaced by war; Mahagosanada was discouraged to return home till the end of war in/on Cambodia and advised to keep studying and practicing so that he would be a useful person to others after the war (he was key in creating refugee centers); and Hahn was exiled from home. Later Hahn was challenged to spend all his time giving dharma, not using his time on lettuce (first paragraph):
"One day in New York City I met a Buddhist scholar and I told her about my practice of mindfulness in the vegetable garden. I enjoy growing lettuce, tomatoes, and other vegetables and I like to spend time gardening every day. She said, 'You shouldn't spend your time growing vegetables. You should spend more time writing poems. Your poems are so beautiful. Everyone can grow lettuce, but not everyone can write poems like you do.' I told her, 'If I don't grow lettuce, I can't write poems.'

By living your life, by producing works of art, you contribute to the work of the collective awakening of our people. A bodhisattva is someone who is awake, mindful, and motivated by a desire to help others to wake up. The artist, the actor, the filmmaker, the novelist may be inspired by a desire to become a bodhisattva, helping with the awakening of the people, helping them to touch the seed of joy, of peace, of happiness in themselves, helping them to remove and transform the seeds of discrimination and fear and craving. The artist can do all this. If you are motivated by that desire, you will have so much joy and energy that fame and power will not appeal to you anymore. Nothing can be compared with that kind of joy, knowing that your life on Earth is beautiful and is helpful.

"When I'm taking care of the lettuce or watering my garden I don't think of poetry or writing. I focus my mind entirely on taking care of the lettuce, watering the vegetables and so on. I enjoy every moment and I do it in a mode of 'non-thinking.' It's very helpful to stop the thinking. Your art is conceived in the depths of your consciousness while you're not thinking about it. The moment when you express it is only a moment of birth, the moment you deliver the baby. For me, there must be moments when you allo
w the child inside you to grow, so you can do your best and your masterpiece can contain insight, understanding, and compassion.
~ from Answers from the Heart

Alex:
We talked some more and noted sensations and their feeling tones.  He surmised that while i was labelling many sensations as neutral, i was actually layering equanimity on top of the experience (and hopefully not  the near-enenmy indifference).  I'm sure he was right, the feelings in my face have actually become overpowering at times and i wish they would go away.  i always thought i was doing a good thing by trying to be equalnimous but my homework now is to simply note things like "itching" or "burning" and accurately label the feeling tone.


Yes. I call this "false"equanimity" when I have felt this in me, but regardless of how we would name this condition, it's not to splitting hairs in what is meant (unless we mean something totally different).

This condition is, to me, that, yes, there are times where one has been peaceful/feeling balanced/equanimous or neutral and yet aversive feelings/conditions are arising; if I don't see or if I choose to avoid minding those aversions arising, then a physical-mental tension and/or bracing will form, a distancing from feelings and aversions, a clinging to some "false" neutral (the memory of and desire for equanimity, the memory of and desire for neutral). It would take until I finally notice the mounting tension/bracing/unpleasant grasping to say, "This is not neutral nor equanimous and there's actually bracing to avoid aversion here; there's avoiding seeing here." 

Recognizing "false equanimity" (or however we want to call such a condition, if we're speaking of very similar conditions) is to me a stellar opportunity for recognizing compassion and insight:  One knows the condition being-alive-well-and-being-subject-to-age-loss-dying, knows the condition of being suffused with the natural condition to seek comfort and pleasant feelings and to avoid unpleasant/non-neutral conditions, knows the conditions of being composed of changing parts (mental and physical), and knows the option of trying to learn to see all of this change is a way that reducing harm, increases reliable well-being in totally dynamic conditions which do not support any reliable grabbing nor reliable handholds*. 

Edit: There is a monastic teacher, Analayo, who encourages people to welcome all thoughts (not act on all thoughts) else we could train our minds to just be blind to the mind. If we say (not that you are), "That thought is stupid," or "I'm not covering up feelings; I'm neutral (dammit)," then we can actually train ourselves to do pretty deceitful activities simply because we shamed/shunned the mind for presenting certain thoughts/feelings in the first place. So to know, "Oh, I'm not equanimous. I am attached/averse/angry/whatever" is the actual early equanimity of seeing conditions as they are. So I appreciated that he used himself as an example so encourage others to be okay and seeing what they are actually feeling. 



Anyway, this is where i am after five years of spirited meditation.  A bit humbling  

Wholly agree.
<nod,nod,nod>

___________________
*where the reliablity is found in seeing these conditions and developing personal conduct (e.g., the Buddhist paramis, the golden rule, other) that co-creates conditions of well-being. Effort, wash, repeat.. add "humor softener" to the load.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/2/15 12:45 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
*where the reliablity is found in seeing these conditions and developing personal conduct (e.g., the Buddhist paramis, the golden rule, other) that co-creates conditions of well-being.

Someone shared this comic adage with me over the weekend during a (not) completely unrelated workshop:

Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from poor judgement.

Nicely defeats any perfectionism..


RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/4/15 10:20 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Thank again Katy.  I'm really appreciate your so well-put-together thoughts.  I printed them off and was just rereading them today.

so yes, i think we're talking about the same thing.  I really have to do more investigation.  Is it possible that when i was sitting over the last 5yrs, sometimes for hours at a time--and over this steady stream of retreats--that i just wasnt slowing down enough to truly connect with feeling tone?  I have always thought i was just very emotionally neutral.  Maybe I'm just coming to grips with the disatisfactoriness of life, as i heard some Ripoche say this morning in my new Tibettan Meditation course on Coursera, offered by the University of Virginia.

I fully recommend it if you have time.  If you dont, it;s supposed to repeat a few times.

But anyway, back on topic:i will continue investigatng.  And hope to write back after the weekend.

With Metta

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/4/15 10:58 AM as a reply to Rednaxela.
Sweet. I am registered for that class, but my data access is still very limited for a few more months as far as I can tell. 

Is it possible that when i was sitting over the last 5yrs, sometimes for hours at a time--and over this steady stream of retreats--that i just wasnt slowing down enough to truly connect with feeling tone?  

The vocabulary of feeling tone is not one I use, but here's how I understand what you're saying in my own experience: Yes, for me, I see that there is a lot of cultural narrative overlay in response to conditions and there's also instinctual overlay.

And then there's a developing sane response-- which is authentically connected to and engaged with conditions as they are.

A. So as a cultural narrative overlay to conditions, perhaps when I started on this site (the start of digging deeper in a meditative practice I started, gah, more than 20 years ago in a zen tradition) I had lots of intellectual and emotional frameworks I wanted my life and my world/knowledge conditions to fit: you know, everything's friendly, "greed: what's that?", and just we use our human brains worldwide for just exploration and wonder and caring for living beings, respect.. <sigh> you get my point =)
 
B. As an instinctual framework, I had also natural fear about my life and future conditions, having a secure place in the system, such as job, home, in a well community.

On this site, I've gotten to jog out a lot in the "A" category, because of people interacting with "A" stuff... this is the verbal tussling that happens in debate here. Very useful. Eventually, I got tired of verbal tussling (no reliable peace was coming in from it) and I started really focusing on meditation and Tarin's own guidance on a senses-based practice.

The meditative practice by accident lead me to "paralysis" event in meditation: basically, what seems to happen in a simple death of the body (by "simple death" I mean, an event that had no trauma or indignity or longing surrounding it) so in meditation I got an impression of how the body and I have and may continue to react to non-breathing, inability to move --  inability to control being alive at a basic heartrate&breathing level --  my own anxiety, then my own peace in just waiting and seeing. This event started to work on catergory "B". (I know viscerally that the body will try to restart and that I may also experience some anxiety or not.. there's a whole other preceding out-of-body experience that is in my mind that say, "Chillax, it's okay.." Still I think my first reaction will continue to be some alarm even in a simple, dignified death.) 


So Category C: developing a sane mind to the way things are. What truly is reliable (to me, in my experience)?
Knowing conditions (annicca), knowing causality (if this, then that; & I co-cause), having compassion for my/your/all essence as a being with evolutionary instinctual urges and am not perfect (I learn as I co-cause, making decisions I would repeat and others I would not), and knowing what affective states of mind can build, such as good childcare, good parks, good wilderness, good games/sport (E.g., Aryton Senna), good science/wonder (moon shots!)... Cat. C is the big, lovely learning terrain. Open. 
 

Alex, did you once use something like a radioactive avatar? Just curious.


And since you're reading me as I'm reading you, I hope if you see some advice or co-inquiry to share, that you do.

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/9/15 8:21 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hi Katy, I'm just started off my morninig at work and i should get to my work pronto but couldnt resist taking a peak at DO.  Thanks again for such a wonderful response!  Anyway, i'll be brief here and hope to return before the end of the day.

- i was referring to Vedana but was a bit tentative to throw out Pali terms.  Pleasant/Unpleasant/neutral.  so i shouldnt have said "i thought i was emotionally neutral", as i would be referring to something a bit more complex i believe.

- i'm not sure exactly how the overlays A, B and C come into being.  I'll have to come back to this before i can comment.

- i greatly appreciate your generosity and will definitely offer any insights/suggestions i have.  

- too bad about a skilled man like Aryton Senna dying in his prime.   His documentary is one of the few films i've seen in the last 5yrs. Good example of a loud, noxious and once-dangerous sport.    

- No avatar but used to have a pic of myself.  but it was from my pre-meditation days so i thought it inappropriate.

Best,
Alex

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/11/15 12:46 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
So as luck would have it, there's a bomb scare on tonight;s train.  this works out unusually well as i got a few minutes to reread your lovely post.

Let's see.  I should be careful not to misinterpret.  

In terms of cultural/instinctual overlay, it sounds like we should prefer the sane response C, i.e., just step back and let things take care of themselves.  Easy to let the heartbeat by itself.  You know, i put way too much thinking into breathing or just walking down the street.  I wouldnt say that this person called Alex L is a control freak.  It;s more like if i dont remember to breathe then i'll forget to do it, and if i'm not careful i'll fall on my face.  Or maybe I'll look strange.

I think i realize the fundamental truth of anatta, i.e., that i am interdependent and impermanent.  But this is challenging to put into practice.  I'm always thinking about things that happened in the recent or not-so-recent past.

Anyway, still trying to tune into Vedana: is this pleasant?  Is it unplesant?  Is it neutral?  Why is it so hard to tell these apart?!

Best, Alex  

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/11/15 9:56 AM as a reply to Rednaxela.
Hi Alex, 

I want to be really clear I'm not saying you should do anything in particular. In my opinion, it's your life and exploration. I listed out A, B, C in terms of learning for me. I'd guess your work for you will be fit to you and made maybe of different materials.

If I had to say one advice: I think people ultimately do well to develop certainty in their own minds for themselves to be reliable unto themselves regardless of followers or teachers, circumstances, conditions, reputation/disrepute, etc. (I refer to the eight vissitudes).

I was reminded this week of a short period of life when i lived on a sub-arctic river delta. An elder in town gave me a Chu'pik sentence to take to a village elder on the delta: "Esh-pung chuqanuqauq" [sp?] Basically, find your own teacher inside. They shared knowledge and experience freely, no strings attached. They shared really delicately, respectfully. I had a lot of time to lay on my back on the tundra, miles and miles of streams away from anyone, any human sound, was the tallest thing on the landscape for miles and miles. It was the only time I felt a little agoraphobia: I am the only human here there is nothing else on the horizon. And when the sky ceiling was low, there was no sun or visual landmark. So, in fact, that sentence that I carried from one elder to another, was useful to me. Ultimately, one has to come to terms with themselves (I think), their human terrain, in a vast vast landscape of existence. I don't know where you live, but I can say a vast tundra or delta is really good for seeing "I have to learn sincerely and practically from myself": there is big sky, long walking, a landscape without many clues unless one really learns for themselves "This is that pond-shaped-like-a-crescent-by-the pond-shaped-like-a-kidney. I had canoe problems and radio-dying and had to know how to read the landscape personally. Even a midnight sun lighting the terrain doesn't prevent hunger and thirst and real need to know for oneself "Where am I? What have I really learned for myself about this?"

Then I really appreciated my two-cycle engine teachers, my chainsaw teachers, my swimming teachers, and aerial map makers, and all the people who went before me to whose own sincere experience and conveyance of their knowledge, gave me the chance of rote survival and also knowledge of joy, the importance of developing joy, not just po-face survival. The teachers who were teachers because they just shared knowledge, no strings attached, to help me avoid their mistakes. It is no fun to be lost, tired and hungry. A 'teacher' knows this, shares in the aspiration to alleviate pain growing in others or to share a cure that helped them. I don't know if this makes sense. 

This is why I love anapanasati: it is like the vast tundra and delta. The inhale-exhale meditation is the most basic lanscapes of "What am I?"; sometimes things fly up in mind like swallows, sometimes I'm stuck in a thickness like slough mud, sometimes there's just big limitless sky of mind, awe, swans, sun-dogs (rainbows around the sun), not-separate, definitely co-arising species, events and terrains. 

I wish this forum had more of a listening feature. I know there is a DhO hangout space available, but it's not used much. Oftentimes i think listening/being heard/airing one's thoughts to a listening/empty-field mind goes a long in one's own practice. 


___________
Edit:
Alex L.
Anyway, still trying to tune into Vedana: is this pleasant?  Is it unplesant?  Is it neutral?  Why is it so hard to tell the apart?!
Well, it's your exploration. It will be interesting to read your discoveries/investigations. For me, physical discomfort and pain is unpleasant sensation. 

RE: Zen and stream entry
Answer
9/11/15 2:09 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
This is why I love anapanasati: it is like the vast tundra and delta. The inhale-exhale meditation is the most basic lanscapes of "What am I?"; sometimes things fly up in mind like swallows, sometimes I'm stuck in a thickness like slough mud, sometimes there's just big limitless sky of mind, awe, swans, sun-dogs (rainbows around the sun), not-separate, definitely co-arising species, events and terrains. :

Thank you posts Katy. I just love reading and rereading everyone one.

Anyway, yes, i should get definite on something.  Why can i not distinguish between pleasant/unpleasant/neutral?  It Seems to me there is a lot of neutral, i.e., just showing up in life.  

Ok, maybe that's not exactly my experience.  Sometimes, when i'm feeling rather regular in day-to-day life, i'll sit on the cushion and close my eyes.  Bright or flickering lights asoon ppear and the sensation of being strapped in a fast moving vehicle.  I open my eyes and it stops.  I close them again and my skin is on fire.  The more i try to meditate the more unconfortable it is.  So i stop after 15-30min and only rarely do more than 45min.  But isnt it funny talking about past meditation experiences which were once very present but now constructed memories, i.e., delusion? 

-- i like your comment on anpanasati. My first genuine meditation experiences 5yrs ago were based on anapana and i find myself coming back to the practice again and again.

-- and will try to get to the rest of your message later when i'm not at work.  I love reading about the artic-are you in Canada? 

Best,
Alex